Deep Sea Mining

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 22nd September 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Sheehan Baroness Sheehan Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk that industrial-scale deep seabed mining will (1) damage ocean ecosystems, and (2) lead to permanent biodiversity loss.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The UK recognises the growing pressure to extract deep-sea resources, and is deeply concerned about the potential impacts of mining activities on the fragile marine environment.

We have commissioned an independent review of the existing literature in relation to deep sea mining, which will seek to include elements such as environmental, economic and societal considerations, and to identify key outstanding questions and evidence gaps. The terms of reference and a summary of the evidence review will be published in due course.

We have committed not to sponsor or support the issuing of any exploitation licences for deep sea mining projects, unless and until there is sufficient scientific evidence about the potential impact on deep sea ecosystems, and strong and enforceable environmental regulations and standards are in place.

Further and detailed environmental impact assessments would be required in advance of any exploitation licence being issued.

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